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What I've Been Up To 

Okay, the last year and a half have not been exactly normal for most of us. The Diamondville crowd got a bit of a head start on that, since our leader had to retire at the beginning of 2018, so the shutdown didn't shoot us down mid-project. I decided to spend my now-ample free time rooting around in my archives, and experimenting with making videos for the various things I found there. And in the process, I uncovered a lot of strange relics that invited me to do a lot of rethinking and occasional recategorizing. And some brought back long-forgotten or long-neglected stories. This is one of them.

When I first arrived in LA, I was hoping to get into the recording studio game, and it happened for me fairly quickly. The very first session I did in LA turned out a surprise hit record, and it's one you might even recall, if you're old enough and perverse enough. The artist called himself Daddy Dewdrop, and the hit was "Chick-a-Boom." You may even recall a bit of the lyric: "Don't you just love it." It was a top 10 record, at a time when the charts meant something, and its success led to an album. Daddy Dewdrop, or Dick Monda, as he was legally known, included a song I had written back in Indiana and recorded as a demo once I got to LA. The album didn't do as well as the single, but I loved his version of my song, and I loved the idea of playing on a hit record. For a while, I believed it happened automatically.

Flash forward fifty years, and I find my song, as performed by Daddy Dewdrop, in my archives. I wondered whatever had happened to Daddy Dewdrop, a question that was easily answered by a bit of internet searching. Turned out he's still alive and active, still writing and recording, and living not far away.

We were nearing the end of the shutdown when I called him up and asked him if he'd be interested in lip-syncing "Five Card Stud" for my own devious purposes. It turned out thought that was a fine idea, so he came over, my first post-pandemic visitor, and we caught up on many decades of friends and other stuff, great and small—and he turned out to be a great lip-syncer, a view underscored by Daisy Press, after seeing the video:
"Wow... Daddy Dewdrop is an incredible lip-syncer and knows how to improvise the smoothest moves. He knows who he is in every way. And knows how to wear his beard." If Daisy says so, it must be so. You can judge for yourself by watching the video.

Five Card Stud is a song about poker, which is one of the things we liked to do while we were on tour, which made it a natural fit with the songs on my Taking America to America album. Coincidentally, one of my goals during this time was to make videos for all the songs on that album. Will I succeed? Who knows? Have I done more? You bet I did, and I'll be showing them off around here, so bookmark my site if you care to keep up and see more. Why have a pandemic if you can't have a little fun?

The Arrival and Departure of the Stogie Era 

Cigarmania hit Diamondville big-time back at the end of the last century. Our vocalist either acquired or  revived a powerful craving for smoking stogies, and some others soon got the bug too. Even I, who had never even indulged in a cigarette, found myself smoking Culebras, those odd, spiral-shaped cigars, which were sold wound together in pairs. 

When word got around that Neil was really, really into cigars, the manager of each arena in each itinerary soon began to gift him with a big box of fancy Cubans as a gift welcoming him to whatever city we were in that night. 

And after the show ended, Neil would reliably get on our bus heading back to the hotel, walk down the aisle, and generously hand a cigar to any company member who showed the slightest sign of wanting one. Since these were not simple cheroots, but high-end, fabulous specimens, there were plenty of takers, including those like myself, who had never thought of themselves as cigar smokers. 

This behavior continued through a trip to Australia, where King Errisson famously walked into a banquet room full of stogie-suckers, and announced loudly: “It’s a good thing Neil didn’t take up (expletives deleted).” 

The fascination eventually waned, as such manias often do and things returned to normal. But a funny thing then happened: our singer’s voice became better than ever before. 

We weren’t quite sure whether his vocals were improved by his period of intense cigar-smoking, or by the subsequent ending of the period of intense cigar-smoking, but either way, it led us to some of our best shows ever, vocal-wise-speaking.

Tulsa—Don't Spell it Backwards! 

Way back on October 20, 2008, as our plane was preparing to land in Tulsa where we were to perform the next night, our stellar trombonist Arturo Velasco shared with us that he was experiencing a toothache. 

Not a little tingle-tooth, mind you, but a real full-on toothache. And since our Muzoids were always well looked after, he was quickly delivered to a dental surgery unit, where his big mouth was worked on until will into the evening. 

Most people would rather have a root canal than spend a couple of days in Tulsa, but Art was the rare exception, a man who got to do both. 

In the painting at the top left, Arturo is shown undergoing treatment from a very caring nurse, albeit one with liquor perhaps on her breath. The photo at the bottom right shows Arturo’s pre-root-canal state—just to prove that he wasn’t faking it, just to get attention. 

A well-known politician is giving the good people of Tulsa a painful extraction of his own this weekend, and a lot of us will look forward to when it’s all over and we can get back to sensible people doing sensible things. 

When the plan to stage a gigantic Trump rally at the BOK Center emerged, some wacky claims were floated for the number of projected attendees. The Trump crowd has an uneasy relationship with numbers, preferring to make them up as needed. Those of us who’ve actually worked in the BOK Center have a little clearer idea of its actual capacity—19,199, and if we could have squeezed in a few more, rest assured our accountants would have found a way to do so. it. The claimed numbers were later reduced to something a bit closer to reality. 

The BOK Center (Big Old Kalamity, we respectfully called it) was designed by a gent named Cesar Pelli, the same dude who got big bucks for designing the Enron building in Houston. Speaking of numbers, any connection there? 

The choice to hold their rally during a  brutal pandemic may not have been wise, but at least they are managing to sneak through the heart of “Tornado Alley” during a brief period of no tornadoes. 

Side note: Tulsa is filled with Art Deco buildings, but the rally attendees probably won’t get to see any of them, because they’ll be elsewhere, trying not to die. 

There is some precedent for infectious appearances in town. ªThe ghost of Enrico Caruso is said to haunt Tulsa’s Brady Theater. He is supposed to have caught a cold there, which led to his later death by pleurisy. Just mentioning...

In 1957, a brand new Plymouth Belvedere was buried under the lawn of the Tulsa County Courthouse. There was to be a contest held 50 years later, with the car going to the person who had come closest to guessing the 2007 population of Tulsa. 

Well, they weren’t too good with numbers either, and the contest was all messed up. They weren’t sure exactly who should get the car, and they had trouble trying to get people to help dig it up. Plus. they didn’t know what kind of shape it would be in when it was unearthed. 

But we do know this: the very last Plymouth came off the assembly line in 2001. When DaimlerChrysler killed off the Plymouth brand, they did an arguably  blasphemous thing: Plymouth was the brand of automobile which God used to drive. 

Proof is in the bible: “... then God drove Adam and Eve from the Garden of Paradise in a Fury!”